The adoption of the new remote learning systems has been a challenge in an environment where teachers, parents and caregivers were not positioned to provide education, through radio programmes, home-schooling, online learning and other approaches as outlined by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Continuing education, through alternative
learning pathways has been prioritized since the closure of schools nearly two
months ago, as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease.
But the adoption of the new
remote learning systems has been a challenge in an environment where teachers,
parents and caregivers were not positioned to provide education, through radio
programmes, home-schooling, online learning and other approaches as outlined by
the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Najib Saiga, a teacher at Bishop
Senior Secondary School in Mukono district, recalls a phone call informing him
that the Ministry of Education had recommended him to teach English and literature
lessons, through Uganda Broadcasting Corporation Radio. With his teaching
experience of over 20 years, Saiga notes that the new assignment was an uphill
“Although I had not figured out
how to do it, I was ready to face it. However, everything was strange. No
classroom, no learners. The entire environment was strange,” Saiga shares,
before adding that the art of teaching on radio and TV is tricky, and requires
innovative skills, totally different from the usual classroom engagement.
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Pius Kitondekijja, a mathematics
teacher at the Masajja-based Top-Quality Primary School who was contracted by Delta
Television shares a similar experience. He says imagining a class and teaching
in front cameramen, producers, and a director has been challenging.
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For the national broadcaster-UBC officials
at the education ministry highlighted the challenge and advised that each
teacher should have one or two learners in the studio, in order to have a classroom
feeling. However, Saiga notes that even that, was not a clear representation.
He points out that if there is a
bright learner in the studios, then the teacher moves at the learners' pace at
the expense of others who could have tuned in from the comfort of their homes. To
change this, he brought in several learners from different schools and areas.
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Both teachers independently highlight
that the biggest problem has been the limited time given for each lesson and
add that delivering a radio and television program in a short time for a person
without training to deliver in such an environment can be a nightmare.
Sometimes the lessons are aired
for 30 to 40 minutes which, according to him, is not enough for such a setting
and in some circumstances, they are interrupted by commercials. They note that
that the limited times lead to an increase in the speed of delivery and at
times leads to mistakes.
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Other countries which have
employed TV and radio lessons for the education response plan during COVID-19 have
ensured that lessons are given time. For example, in Argentina, the Ministry of
Education and the Secretariat of Media and Public Communication, have set 14
hours a day of television content and 7 hours a day of radio content for
They have also observed that
absence of interactions and feedback is another challenge, given the fact that
they are used to getting instant feedback from their learners, which informs them
on whether the learners are grasping anything or not.
In the meantime, teachers are
offering their mobile phones as a channel through which feedback can be
recorded. However, at times he is overwhelmed with the calls and messages.
During the interview, he received over 10 calls until when he switched it off
Despite the experience, the duo
is optimistic that the teaching and learning process via television and radio
can be a good alternative in cases where classroom teaching cannot take place.
Dr Jane Egau Okou, the Commissioner
for Teacher Education and Instruction at the education, ministry says the
current teacher training curricula do not have aspects of virtual teaching
approaches which are presenting challenges to nearly all teachers that are
currently teaching using the said platforms.
She, however, notes that the
circumstances have already dictated and a turning point has been made which
makes virtual teaching a compulsory skill for the future.